Okay- let me first start off by saying that both of these palettes I love, immensely. They both have their pros and cons just like any other palette. However, both of these palettes, I believe, can serve you in different ways. I’ll explain as I go along. For the sake of not developing any additional carpal tunnel, I’ll use the abbreviation SL for shade light, and ABH for Anastasia’s kit. My grades will be based on color, blendability, cost, pigmentation, and overall usage. Let me show you how my grading scale works:
A: Perfect, wouldn’t change a thing
B: Amazing, but could use some work
C: Eh, so-so
D/F: These don’t come around that often but if they do, something has gone seriously wrong
Lets start off with the basic premise of these palettes and where the idea comes from. Both are meant for the new trend (contouring, obviously) that has taken the modern day beauty industry by storm. It seems as if we woke up one day, and EVERYBODY was contouring. This specific technique has been around for ages, but with all the Kardashian’s being contoured to the nines, we’re more obsessed with it than ever. Say what you will about the Kardashian’s- but those cheek bones can be seen from a mile away. So not only are celebs taking advantage of this beauty secret- but many companies have now given us mere mortals the tools to replicate them. In my own opinion, contouring is the equivalent of a real-world filter. It’s meant to enhance our features, yes, but also to sculpt and manipulate them to appear a different way. Contouring can be used to elevate cheek bones, shorten or slim the face, narrow the nose, etc. etc. The makeup gods have shown mercy upon us and granted us with the power and convenience of all-in-one kits, and we are forever indebted to them. Bless.
These are my personal palettes. You might not be able to tell, but I usually stick to two colors in each palette….. Wait, you can tell? Yeah that makes sense. I know they’re banged up but these babies get a lot of lovin, as they should. Also just a disclaimer- I have owned the ABH palette for much longer. They are both black and both have a magnetic closure, but you can see the SL is much larger than the ABH. It also has a mirror which the ABH lacks. Aesthetics does not matter so much to me because truly, it’s whats on the inside that counts.
Moving right along. The top colors are specific to highlighting and the bottom colors are specific to contouring. I organized these swatches based on their location. For instance, whichever color was in the bottom left hand of the SL, I picked the same one from the bottom left of the ABH. Generally these colors are placed here because of their shades.
These are all swatched on me in natural lighting with no flash, no filter, and my skin tone is about an NC20 in MAC or “Light” in KVD’s Tattoo Foundation.
Havana (ABH) VS. Sombre (SL)
Both of these colors are the “darker” shades in each palette. Havana has a definite clay-based undertone to it. Almost an orange against my skin tone. Sombre has a more ashy-gray undertone. Taupe, if you will. Both of these I would use on someone who has at least somewhat of a tan, because on lighter skin these colors can be difficult to blend and may appear as if the skin is bruised if done incorrectly. I also had to use more product when swatching Havana because it’s pigmentation isn’t as high as Sombre.
Fawn (ABH) vs. Shadowplay (SL)
These are the two colors I have used the most personally. They’re very similar in color with the exception being that Shadowplay in this instance is more orange based than Fawn. These colors are a little more versatile as far as being used on different skin tones. Fair skinned for a bolder contour, and darker skinned for a more subtle look. Once again I had to use more product when swatching Fawn, and I noticed this with just about every ABH color.
Java (ABH) vs. Subconscious (SL)
These two are VERY alike in color, with just a touch more of an orange base in the Subconscious. For these I have no problem using them on fair skinned people. Since they’re “lighter” than the other two colors in each palette, they’re not too harsh when blended well and used sparingly. Too much contouring on any skin tone can turn a slimmer contouring look into a drag queen look in a flash. So be extra careful with lighter skin.
Sand (ABH) vs. Lucid (SL)
The main difference in these two colors is that Sand has a shimmer to it. It’s a nice iridescent color so you don’t feel like you have a pound of glitter on your face. For this particular shade I would definitely put at the top of cheek bones, but I would stray away from using it under the eyes. The shimmer can accentuate bags and/or dark circles. Lucid would be a better option for under the eye as it is matte and won’t draw as much attention to the area if you have those imperfections.
Banana (ABH) vs. Lyric (SL)
Both of these I use the most and honestly the color difference is practically nonexistent to me. They’re both a very light color with a yellowish undertone. A highlighter with a yellow undertone is ideal for the under eye area because yellow can counteract the purple/blue hues we get due to dark circles. Who likes dark circles? Nobody? That’s what I figured. Plus these are both matte and are phenomenal at setting your under eye concealer.
Vanilla (ABH) vs. Levitation (SL)
Both of these colors are so light you can barely see them on my pale skin. I seldom use them, if ever, and it’s because I feel that even on my skin tone these can be TOO light and don’t really do a whole lot. Levitation has a bit more of a yellow tone to it but not enough to really notice all that much unless someone was 2 inches away from your face. If you’re very very fair these will basically disappear. However if you’re darker and want your highlight to stand out more, you could use these. However, be careful of a lighter tone on dark skin. The color may appear as chalky if the difference in shade is too severe.
Overall I give each of these palettes an A as far as color goes. They both have a good variety for the specific skin tone this palette is directed towards. As you may know, ABH has since released a medium and deep kit as well as this original light kit. I think that’s phenomenal that they offer those options, the SL palette does not (yet) so extra points to ABH for appealing to a larger demographic of users.
As I mentioned before the ABH palette I found I had to get more product to compare the swatch to the SL palette. This does not work in ABH’s favor because not only did I have to use more product, but the amount of the product in the palette isn’t as much as SL when it comes to the contouring colors. Each contouring color in the SL palette has .16 oz of product, where every color in the ABH palette has .11 oz. The SL palette’s highlighting colors are only .08 oz, but I have no problem with this .03 oz difference considering the amount of pigmentation it offers.
In all honesty both of these palettes offer a good amount of blendability as far as I can see. The SL palette has a bit more of a creamier texture compared to the ABH, which contributes to the pigmentation payout. The only problem I can see arising is that the SL palette is SO pigmented that if you accidentally put too much on the brush and start to apply, there may be no turning back. However this is a user issue and not a product issue, so I am willing to overlook it.
The difference in cost between these two as a whole is a whopping $6. The SL palette retails for $46 while the ABH retails for $40. In the end, the SL palette gives you .72 oz of product and the ABH gives you .66 oz. The difference is literally .06 oz, so you’re paying $1 more per .01 oz in the SL palette. But when it comes to pigmentation and cost, it may end up that you’re using the ABH faster. The HUGE HUGE HUGE difference between the SL palette and the ABH however, is being able to replace your colors. The SL palette does not offer refill colors (so to get the main colors you use you would have to replace the whole thing), whereas the ABH does. They don’t sell them in stores (annoying) but you can buy each color for the ABH palette separately for $14 (which by the way if you did that every time, not including shipping, it would make your palette $84 instead of $40) or buy an entirely new palette with customized colors (online only) for again, $40. So here inlays the problem- do you pay for an entire new palette every time you need new colors with the SL? or buy the colors separately whenever you need them with the ABH? I think this depends on what you’re using the palette for. If cost is your BIGGEST issue, this is how I would go about it. If using on clients, I would go with the SL. You probably won’t be using the same exact colors on every person you’re applying a contour to. So the colors will probably wear out all the same (ideally) so you could replace it all at once. If for yourself, the ABH palette. You can replace the colors you use the most because unless you’re drastically changing skin tones constantly, you’re probably going to stick to the same colors. So if you wanted to, when you go through your two favorites, you could potentially just buy another palette with 3 of each color and it would last you, like, forever. That’s just my opinion, but I don’t think cost should be your deciding factor when the difference is only $6.
Like I mentioned before, I’ve had my ABH palette for a good amount of time longer than the SL palette. The only reason being is that the ABH palette came out much sooner. I like having the option of both because sometimes you just need to switch it up. Playing with new products is always going to work in your benefit because you never want to get too comfortable. In the matter of SKIN TYPE (dry vs. oily, etc.) both of these are technically a powder contour, and powder always pans out better on people who are prone to normal-oily skin. It’s just a known fact that powder will dry out previously dry skin. However, with the right base foundation, this can be easily fixed.
Now, by law, we can only have one winner. The fact of the matter is, once I purchased the SL palette, I was in love. A love I knew surpassed the ABH palette. The blendability is superior, the pigmentation is off the charts, and the ONLY downfall this product has is not being able to refill it individually. Which is a matter of cost. I would gladly pay $46 every time my favorite colors run out. It’s really the pigmentation and the blendability of the ABH in comparison to the SL that it falls short. By no means does it suck in the matter of either, but if we’re COMPARING, I’m going with SL 100%.
Kat Von D has FINALLY released refillable shades for the SL palette! Wahoo! They are only available on Sephora.com right now as far as I know. The highlight shades retail for $14 and the contour shades retail for $16!
SIDENOTE: When I looked on Sephora’s website to research the reviews on both palettes, I found that the ABH palette had 754 reviews in total and the SL palette only had 534. Probably because the SL palette is newer. However, the SL palette had 440 5star ratings with more than 200 less reviews, and the ABH palette only had 475. So even though less people have reviewed SL, the percentage of 5star ratings was 82% whereas the percentage of 5 star ratings for the ABH was only 62%. You can’t argue with math. These are facts.
SHADE LIGHT BY KAT VON D WINS!!!
If you are still with me thank you thank you THANK YOU for reading! I know it was long but getting you the facts thoroughly and my personal opinion was important to me. If you have questions or comments please reply- I would love to answer either! Or if you have any suggestions or requests on future posts please let me know. You’re all wonderful. Happy contouring!